Arguments for Iran’s Nuclear Program

The US-Iran nuclear standoff is one of the hottest political issues of today. While for many the US stance is clear, that of Iran is little understood. This post tries to explain the Iranian stance on the issue.

America and Israel—two of the most outspoken proponents of dismantling the Iranian nuclear program—level the following charges against Iran:

  1. Iran doesn’t need nuclear energy because it has vast oil reserves. This means, despite its claims, it is not acquiring the technology for civilian purposes. Rather, it is striving to make a bomb.
  2. If it gets the bomb, it will destroy Israel, whose existence it doesn’t reconcile with.

The Iranians counter the arguments by the following points:

  1. Iran needs nuclear fuel.
    • Its population has doubled over the last two decades leading to an increase in energy demand. This is coupled with a decrease in oil production. During the Shah, Iran produced 6 million barrels of oil per day, while it currently produces only 4 million barrels.
    • It regularly imports electricity due to shortages.
    • The excess capacity required to produce enough electricity to meet demands would cost Iran $40 billion excluding the cost of buying power plant equipments. Harnessing nuclear power costs a fraction of that amount, considering the fact that Iran has vast supplies of uranium ore.
    • Burning too much oil to produce electricity to meet demands will deplete Iranian atmosphere too drastically.
    • It wants to spend its precious oil reserves for other more beneficial purposes.
    • It wants to diversify its energy sources in the backdrop of its fast depleting oil reserves.
    • Even countries rich in oil like Britain and Russia rely on nuclear power
  2. Iran is not pursuing a military nuclear program
    • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa (religious edict) forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on August 9, 2005.
    • Currently Iran can only enrich uranium up to 3.5%, which is good enough for producing nuclear energy, not for bombs (Weapon-grade uranium has to be enriched up to 90%).
    • The IAEA inspectors have found no convincing proof that Iran is pursuing a program for military purposes. In fact, the US too has no convincing proof; It is only leveling allegations based on hypothetical assertions.
    • Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said on December 14, 2001: If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.
  3. It is Iran’s right to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes
    • Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which allows all signatories to build nuclear facilities and enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

It must be noted, however, that Iran's nuclear program was started in 1960s "under the auspices of the US within the framework of bilateral agreements between the two countries."

Further Reading:

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2 Responses to “Arguments for Iran’s Nuclear Program”

  1. 1 Jamie Stern-Weiner June 6, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    You are completely right in saying that there is no real evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. No punitive action can legitimately be taken by anyone unless some proper evidence is unearthed first (which might have happened had not the international community provoked Iran into kicking out the inspectors).

    But, if we’re honest, Iran is probably seeking nuclear weapons. As historian Martin Van Crevald put it, “I don’t know if they’re seeking nuclear weapons, but if they aren’t, they’re crazy”.

    Why? Look what happened to the fellow members of the ‘Axis of Evil’. N. Korea has a nuclear deterrent and was left alone. Iraq didn’t, and we all know what happened to Iraq.

    Iran hasn’t been ignoring these very clear lessons, and nor has anyone else.

    Thus, if we want to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons (and we should want this – a nuclear Iran is good for nobody), we need to stop being hypocritical and start getting serious about diarmament. Global disarmament – that means everyone. It means the US, Russia, Israel, India…and so on.

  2. 2 MyScribbles: Write-ups of an Afghan June 7, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    You are right. And I think only imposing global disarmament can legitimize our quest of disarming Iran; otherwise, we would be using double standards by accepting Irsrael, helping India, recognizing Pakistan, etc, but not recognizing Iran's right to enrich uranium. As Hans Blix, former UN Chief Weapons Inspector, put in his latest report: "The fact that Iran may possess nuclear weapons is not dangerous, the fact any nation at all possess it, is."

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